If You Loved the Grit, Gore, and Grime of “Love Lies Bleeding,” Watch These Gay Movies

Perhaps you, like me, finished watching Love Lies Bleeding last weekend and immediately thought: Wow, I can’t wait to see that again. I literally cannot stop thinking or talking about this film. It’s the spiritual successor to Bound in my opinion, and I do not say that lightly!!!!! Yes, I am prone to impulsivity and hyperbole, but this is easily already one of my favorite movies of all time. Until I see it again, I will feel slightly bereft and adrift. But in the meantime, I wanted to put together a list of similarly gritty and gory action/thriller films that feature queer women. To be honest, there aren’t as many as I wish there were! But here are some gems to check out if you like your queer art to be a little rough and tumble.


Bound

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Violet and Corky in Bound

I mean, obviously. Though different in style and scope, I really do see an artistic throughline between Lily and Lana Wachowski’s Bound (soon to enter the Criterion Collection!) and Love Lies Bleeding. While Love Lies Bleeding breaks realism from time to time and Bound does not, it’s similarly a sexy and violent neo-noir film. It’s of course impossible to predict a film’s legacy when it’s so new, but I hope to still be writing and talking about Love Lies Bleeding for many years to come, just like how Bound has stood the test of time. Also, much like Jackie and Lou are toxic4toxic, so are Corky and Violet in my professional opinion.


Born in Flames

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Born in Flames

This 1983 experimental, radical, feminist film from Lizzie Borden is richly complex in its portrayal of sexism, violence, racism, and homophobia. It’s a tremendous work of art that is very politically and culturally relevant all these decades later.


Atomic Blonde

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CHarlize Theron in Atomic Blonde, at a bar

Now, the writing in Atomic Blonde is far from the brilliant quality of the writing in Love Lies Bleeding. This is a very convoluted action film. But if you ignore the plot and just focus on the action and sex, it’s very entertaining! It includes an all-time favorite fight scene moment for me.


Monster

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Christina Ricci with Charlize Theron, Monster, 2003

Christina Ricci with Charlize Theron, Monster, 2003

Support women’s wrongs by watching this 2003 film in which Charlize Theron plays Aileen Wuornos and Christina Ricci plays her lover Selby. Murder and violence abound, and Theron won Best Actress for her performance. What does it mean that two Charlize Theron movies are on this list? Surely something!


Black Swan

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natalie portman as the black swan

A gorgeous, gorgeous film about a ballerina on the edge, Black Swan is a psychosexual thriller that injects grit and grime to its very specific world of ballet. It’s grotesque and real about bodies in a way that’s absolutely similar to Love Lies Bleeding.


Knife + Heart

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a bunch of queers stand on a balcony at a gay club in the film Knife + Heart

Knife + Heart is a great but also very disturbing queer horror film from 2019, set in the gay porn world of 1979 Paris. It’s razor sharp in its explorations of art-making, sex, and violence.


Titane

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Agathe Rousselle as Alexia grinds on a car with fire decal.

“Flesh is just another binary,” Drew Burnett Gregory writes in her excellent review of this excellent film. Titane indeed eradicates boundaries of many kinds and contains several similar themes to Love Lies Bleeding even as it’s more experimental in its execution and exploration of them.


What Keeps You Alive

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still from What Keeps You Alive

A classic cabin-in-the-woods setup drives this psychological horror film about a woman and her wife, who is harboring dangerous secrets and plotting something horrific. Betrayal! Murder! This film isn’t as good as Love Lies Bleeding, but it’s got those things going for it at least.


Bad Things

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Gayle Rankin, Hari Nef, and Rad Pereira stare toward the camera with concern. Rankin wears a striped sweater, Nef a yellow blazer, and Pereira a blue patterned button down.

Bad Things offers a tribute to and reimagining of The Shining but with lesbians, and I think that’s beautiful. It deservedly has a top 10 spot in Autostraddle’s Scariest Queer Movie Moments list!


Multiple Maniacs

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Mink fucks Divine in church

John Waters’ filthy masterpiece Multiple Maniacs, with its cavalcade of perversions, is full of grit and grime. It’s my personal favorite Waters film!


Ride or Die

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Kiko Mizuhara looks up through her wet red hair.

Based on a popular manga, Ride or Die is a long ass and straight up bananas (complimentary) lesbian murder movie. Does an abusive man get killed? CHECK!


The Novice

Isabelle Fuhrman tears athletic tape with her teeth as she looks up at her coach while sitting with her teammates. She wears a black headband and red sweatshirt, her bloodied hands already wrapped in tape.

Set in the intense world of competitive collegiate rowing, The Novice is a psychological sports drama that feels relentless in its portrayal of training to win.


Thelma

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Thelma in Thelma is hooked up to a brain scan machine

Thelma is a much quieter, low-simmering thriller than Love Lies Bleeding, but its portrayal of obsessive desire is unnerving and will get under your skin.


Mulholland Drive

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Betty and Rita look toward the door scared in Mulholland Drive

I mean, obviously! Mulholland Drive is David Lynch’s gayest and finest. Strange and surreal, it’s also strikingly grounded.


How To Blow Up a Pipeline

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Sasha Lane and Jayme Lawson lean their heads together in an emotional moment.

This film — my favorite queer Christmas movie — has both sweet sincerity to it and explosive rage. It’s tightly executed and features a great ensemble cast.


Set It Off

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The greatest heist movie to ever do it! And not just because it’s gay! It’s also good.


Mommy Is Coming

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Cheryl Dunye’s most underrated film in my opinion, Mommy Is Coming is a filthy work of art. Its sweaty sex scenes are permanently seared in my brain! Dunye co-wrote it with lesbian novelist Sarah Schulman. “It’s not sex-positve; it’s sex-investigative,” I wrote in my review.


Perpetrator

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Kiah McKirnan as Jonny walks through a graveyard with blood on her face.

Jennifer Reeder’s latest, Perpetrator is an incredible entry into the queer horror canon. It echoes some of the themes and motifs of Reeder’s Knives and Skin but with more grit, less glitter.


The Hunger

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Catherine Deneuve holds Susan Sarandon up against a wall.

Wildly sexy, The Hunger is theeeee quintessential queer vampire erotic horror film!


Good Manners

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two women kiss in the movie Good Manners in the dark

If we’re throwing vampire movies out there, let’s round it out with a werewolf movie, too. Good Manners is easily my favorite film about queer motherhood. And it’s full of body horror!


Have fun getting gritty, grimy, sweaty, and bloody with these decidedly not feel-good queer movies. I’m off to see Love Lies Bleeding again!!!!!!!!

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Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is the managing editor of Autostraddle and a lesbian writer of essays, short stories, and pop culture criticism living in Orlando. She is the assistant managing editor of TriQuarterly, and her short stories appear or are forthcoming in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, Joyland, Catapult, The Offing, and more. Some of her pop culture writing can be found at The A.V. Club, Vulture, The Cut, and others. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram and learn more about her work on her website.

Kayla has written 814 articles for us.

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